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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 64
COLUMBUS O'DONNELL ISELIN
September 25, 1904-January 5, 1971
BY HENRY M. STOMMEL
FOR THREE ENCHANTED MONTHS in the summer of 1926, eight youths between the ages of twenty and twenty-three and a hired cook in the newly built 77-foot schooner "Chance" sailed the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador as far north as Cape Chidley. Columbus Iselin, owner and skipper, was the son of a wealthy banking family much involved in the activities of the New York Yacht Club and a graduate of St. Marks and Harvard.
There was a gentlemanly tradition of oceanography at Harvard, starting with the world cruises of Alexander Agassiz (personally financed by Agassiz), and carried on vigorously by the ichthyologist Henry Bigelow through a long and productive life. Once, in 1962, when I encountered Dr. Bigelow in the library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology and told him that I had just returned from the Indian Ocean, he began to reminisce about his own adventures there in the Maldives with Agassiz in 1900. Bigelow could act effectively as an administrator and teacher. He never lost his love or ability to do abundant scientific research.
It was Bigelow who inspired the young Columbus to venture into oceanography and to make the Labrador cruise of the "Chance" into something of a scientific venture rather than a thing of pure sport. Botanical specimens were col-